September 13,2021

Episode 12

From energetic hip hop out of Angola to a divine Lithuanian folk lullaby

IKOQWE - Image by Catarina Limao
Image by Marta Witkowska

In Episode 12 of TSIR – an adventurous and inspiring global journey for music lovers, we drift away to a divine lullaby from Lithuania and discover energetic hip hop sounds out of Angola. We also celebrate Tirana´s 100th birthday as the capital of Albania with local musicians, are stunned by a beautiful neoclassic electronic tune from Chile and fall in love with a brass infused Ethio Jazz inspired banger from a mind-blowing Belgium 9 piece band.

Featured Artist: IKOQWE

IKOQWE are the two Angolan artists Ikonoklasta and Coquenao, two friends and like-minded humans coming together to express themselves as freely as they are capable and is possible focusing on fictional characters, the human condition and exciting sounds. I love the energy of the whole album as well as the diversity of their music which blends together electronic music, hip hop and ancestral sounds from Angola.

Their debut album "The beginning, the medium, the end and the infinite" shows a very interesting approach to Hip Hop music and it contains 11 tracks, whereby the vocals are in Angolan slang, Umbundu, Portuguese & English. The conversations between the two MC´s are about neocolonialism, inequities & falsified history, radio sounds and utopian solutions.

IKOQWE Album Cover

Can you tell us a little bit what the starting point for this project was - how did it come together as well as what IKOQWE means and stands for?

IKOQWE stands for IKO (Ikonoklasta) and COQWE (Coquenão), the two artists that mainly compose the output of what you see and hear. The starting point is friendship and like-minded humans coming together to express as freely as we/they are capable and is possible, focusing on characters, the human condition and fiction more than ourselves.

IKOQWE - Image by Catarina Limao

Please explain the theoretical background of the album - the fictional characters involved, maybe there is a message that you want to transport?

There is no theory, I guess. Just practice :) Words, Music, Archive, Artwork, Video Art, Radio Art and Dance. The album conveys this idea of two (or three?) beings from a different time and space looking at our planet and reacting to our normality. So it is a chance to read, dance, watch, think, have fun looking at reflections on ourselves,

Would be curious to understand a little bit more about the music scene in Angola. Can you share with us what the scene looks like, what is happening with regards to contemporary arts and music in Angola? And what impact do Angola and its history have on this record?

I am not sure there is a scene in the terms the western world can understand. Music is part of life as to eat or to dance. They are part of existing. On top of that, Music was key on creating the post-colonial sense of what it is to be Angolan and to build a momemtum to fight and achieve independence from Portugal. Musicians and artists were key. After 77 things changed but there is a new generation that brings back those values.

It is great to see Semba bringing together Bonga and Paulo Flores, Kuduro turning conscious and also international and Rap being the main force on claiming what the youths want from Angola. It looks like music is life. The diaspora has a key role in the development of contemporary arts. The history of Angola is strongly reflected in the same way we can’t run from independence and civil wars, as well as the long-lasting dictatorship that only ended recently but that still is too present. Cleptocracy, natural wealth, misery, creativity are all key in whatever a normal Angolan artist does.

IKOQWE - Image by Catarina Limao

How did you develop as a musician, where did it start for you, how did you get into contemporary electronic / hip hop music, education….?

I do not see myself as a musician. I started performing whatever was on, as a kid, then got into djing and radio before starting to produce music and going into live shows. Electronic Music and Hip Hop are part of my generation history and I was exposed to them through an older cousin that had the most amazing records.

Early on I felt I really wanted to make people dance and hip hop is by far the most inspiring form of expression I came across as it keeps renew and adjusting to time and space. Luaty shares a lot of this with me. He may be more now recognizable for his activism but it was art and music, as well as common values, that got us together.

IKOQWE - Image by Catarina Limao

Do you have any plans for a tour in the EU - and if so what could people expect from your live shows? 

Sure. Ikoqwe started with a Radio Tour due to Covid limitations and there was a whole mini but amazing tour that was postponed to 2022. In October there will be the first show in Lisbon and then a ley one in Europe (tba) that will define what will happen in 2022. You can expect different art forms coming together and you can have a small idea looking at the KEXP live.

IKOQWE - Live on KEXP at Home

Can you share with us three artists/albums that you listen to or that have inspired you lately?

Mf Doom and all the underground dancers, lyricists and beatmakers from Lisbon and Luanda. The Angolan section of the ILAM archive.